Look east or look least? The Zimbabwean experience of Chine | 17749
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Look east or look least? The Zimbabwean experience of Chinese economic investment in selected texts and examples


Thamsanqa Moyo and Theresia Mdlongwa

Imaginative writers capture the vicissitudes, vagaries, failures and successes of the society in which they are produced faster than historians do. A great deal of fictional works have been produced that analyse the causes, manifestations and effects of the Zimbabwean crisis on their politics. One side effect of the crisis which some artists have grappled with is the” look East Policy’ promulgated by Robert Mugabe in 2005.This was a policy shift necessitated by the break down in relations between Zimbabwe and most of the Western countries because of deficits in governance, human rights democracy and the inauguration of the politics of coercion. Due to the fact that the policy was foisted on Zimbabwe by circumstances leadership did not foresee, it was replete with abuses of labour laws, extraction of mineral resources, the flooding of cheap goods to the detriment of local industries and its people. In this research paper we argue that though there could have been positive spinoffs to the policy, writers who have so far analysed this policy see it as skewed in the sense that China seems to be benefiting more than Zimbabwe is. We argue that friendship with China is a form of latter day colonialism and was motivated less by national interests but more by the fact that Zimbabwe found herself in a cul de sac. To the extent that Zimbabwe was forced to look in one direction for political and economic succour, she was forced to look least among the community of nations that used to respect her. This is why there is talk in the country about reengaging the West. The research limits itself to the analysis of fictional works, which are still few, that narratives the reality of Chinese investment in Zimbabwe. We use No Violet Bulawayo’s We Need new Names, Gappah’s An Elegy for Easterly, Eppel’s White man Crawling and his poem “Ghostly Galleon”. We conclude that modern day foreign policy is never to look south, east, west or north but everywhere seeing that there are no permanent friends but interests. We argue that looking to China as the only giant international friend for Zimbabwe has economically diminished the country’s options and this has become an albatross around the neck. There is need to revisit the so-called policy so that it is in the national interests.

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